Where Do I Find My Inspiration?

Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.

– Louis L’Amour

True story. That quote may be the only thing I’ve ever read written by Louis L’Amour.

But I read Lonesome Dove. That’s kind of the same thing, right?

Still, the sentiment is true. Every writer, artist, composer will likely tell you the same thing.

You can’t wait to be inspired.

Sometimes inspiration is just parking your behind in the chair and starting to type. Let’s be frank, if you’ve read here even on an occasional basis, you’ve come across a post or two that’s a pretty random jumble of thoughts that may or may not be connected.

It happens.

It boils down to this: Inspiration is work.

If I waited until I felt like doing something, I’d be back to that image of sitting on the couch streaming Netflix and eating bon bons.

Assuming someone would bring me the bon bons.

If I waited for inspiration, I would never write the first word.

If I waited for inspiration, I would never get to the gym.

If I waited for inspiration, I would never head to that audition.

If I waited for inspiration, I would never touch that canvas.

Inspiration looks a lot like work.

Margaret Mitchell didn’t sit down and type out Gone with the Wind in an afternoon. It took her years.

Lin Manuel Miranda didn’t sit down at a keyboard after the evening news and pound out the score and lyrics to Hamilton.

Michael Wolfe didn’t sit down at his keyboard and type out a questionable and sensationalistic book about the President just to boost his Amazon sales.

Too soon?

You get the point.

Now, let me be clear. There are things that inspire me.

I am inspired by nature, mostly the ocean, but I can dig a mountain or river or two.

I am inspired by the writings of others.

I am inspired by theater and sometimes by film.

I am inspired by music, some more than others.

In my home office, I surround myself with things that inspire me. My walls are full of programs and pictures from events in my life. Accomplishments and inspirational quotes, and things I just love. There are quite a few lions.

On my desk as I write this, I’ve not put away Christmas. Don’t snark, the season just ended on Saturday with Epiphany. But to my right are my aunt’s Christmas tree that holds a special place in my heart, a small stuffed Abominable from Rudolph, a smaller Charlie Brown Christmas tree, and a figurine of the Nativity to remember what it’s all about. Behind me are books and pens and office supplies. We won’t talk about the current status of the closet that looks like a Goodwill truck exploded, that’s not the point.

These things all inspire me. Sometimes they give me ideas for writing, or art projects, or other things.

Sometimes they’re simply a source of comfort.

More often than not, I sit down at the keyboard and wonder what I’ll be writing about for the day.

On the days when I have my act together (it happens), one of my first tasks, after the devotional reading (see yesterday), is to sit and write 1,000 words, at least.

True story. I started the project as a means to building the writing career. The working title remains “How I Wrote My Ass Out of Hell.” Things have changed since I started it and I’m more at peace with the day job. Don’t get me wrong, I still want out. That’s another true story.

The writing of 1,000 words is a discipline. In a sense it’s journaling. Some days it’s griping about what is going on or not going on. Some days it’s actually good writing.

Every day it’s work, and it’s writing, with or without inspiration.

Inspiration isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s a wonderful thing.

But, if you’re waiting for inspiration, or Godot, you’re likely going to be disappointed.

In 2018, I’m willing myself to Get Things Done whether I feel like it or not.

That’s pretty darned inspirational.

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What I’m Reading

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

Stephen King

True story.

I realize that, as a writer, it is just as important to spend time reading as it is to spend time writing. Reading makes me a better writer.

I’m not just talking about reading Facebook feeds. I do a good bit of that. I also do a good bit of reading articles and other blogs on the Interwebz. Not enough, I know that.

I also read to learn and observe the writing styles of others. As a Southern author, or at least as an author who lives in the South, I need to read the works who also know about sweet tea, and bourbon, and grits. I’m just sayin’.

So, I try to always be reading at least one book. Usually I have several going, as is the case right now.

I have set my Goodreads challenge for 2018 at 50 books. In 2017, I read 40. I can do fifty, and I’m well on my way.

I’ve already completed two books for the year. One I started just after Christmas, so it’s not entirely fair to say I read it in 2018. The other is a script for a play, readable in one sitting.

In other words, I have not finished War and Peace in the first week of the year.

And, it is not on my reading list.

As for now…

The Books I Finished…

The Great Santini by Pat Conroy, a semi-autobiographical novel about an overbearing Marine father and his son. Not normally the type of book that I’d read, and maybe I should have started with The Prince of Tides.

Still, The Great Santini is raw, gritty, and well written. It is not, however, for the easily offended.

The Man Who Came to Dinner by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. This play, like many, is a product of its time. Perhaps in the 1930s it was relevant. But in today’s society where so much of the news is focused on sexual harrassment and mistreatment, I’m not sure the character of the overbearing boss is exactly what people want to be portraying on the stage. Reality is harsh enough. Honestly, I can’t recall seeing a production of this work, or even seeing that a theatre company had it on their season.

The Books I’m Currently Reading…

The Bible and the Bard by Bob Hostetler. This was a gift from my wife sometime last year after I said I wanted to read my way through The Complete Works of Shakespeare. I still do, and I did not accomplish that in 2017. A few of the plays will be amongst my choices for this year. This book however is a devotional that spans 365 using quotes from The King James Version of the Bible and lines from Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. I’m a little more than a week in, and I’m gaining a new appreciation for both works.

The Story: The Bible as One Continuing Story of God and His People with Forewords by by Max Lucado and Randy Frazee. I’ve been through this one before a number of years back. In 2017, I worked my way through the entire English Standard Version of The Bible. I readily admit that there’s a good portion of the Old Testament that I just don’t get. This work is an easy read, but I’m limiting myself to just a few pages a day. It tells the story from Genesis to Revelation in easy to read and understand language. It’s not really the Scripture, but it helps put things in context.

The Gypsy Morph (Genesis of Shannara, Book 3) by Terry Brooks. I’ve been reading my way through all of the Shannara books for some time now. I’m using the author’s suggested reading plan. I read many of the books back in the 1980s and some in the 1990s. But, I put them aside. Quite honestly, I couldn’t remember which ones I’d read and which I had not. I’m making good progress, and finding used versions on Amazon has been a pretty cool thing to do.

I’ve also been re-reading my way through the Harry Potter books. Yes, I know that yesterday I mentioned binge-watching the movies. I love the movies. The books are better. I’ve read the first five and up next is Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

It’s also time for a re-reading of The Lord of the Rings. I’ll probably start with The Hobbit for good measure. And, as also mentioned yesterday, I’ll re-watch The Lord of the Rings movies at some point. I will not, however, bother with The Hobbit movies. For those, I cheered when the last one was finally over. Sorry. Not sorry.

While I’m currently working on…let me count…five scripts as I write this (various reasons), I plan to try…that is try…to read at least one new script (new to me) a week. If you’ve got scripts to loan, let me know. I’m not picky. Well, I am, but sometimes you need to force yourself to read stuff.

So, I have plenty to read, and there are things I need to put on my reading list.

Give me some suggestions. What do you think I should read in 2018?


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